Insurance agent Bob Brown typically meets clients in their homes. But sometimes clients don’t always want a stranger in their living room talking about the finances of managing life, death, accidents and sickness.
So Brown, 54, has to sit down with the sensitive paperwork at in Towson at York Road and Burke Avenue. As it is for many telecommuters, Starbucks and other area coffee shops have become their offices.
Brown sets up twice a week in the coffee shop, often attracting customers simply by parking his Hyundai SUV outside. The driver's side door features his picture and insurance information.
Ironically, just after Brown had finished finalizing four new supplemental health plans for a customer inside the Starbucks, a stranger entered to tell him that he had just backed into his Hyundai.
The two men went outside to assess the damage that the man's pickup truck with the long ladder hanging out of it had done to Brown’s car. None really. But the two started talking. Before the man left with his tall regular coffee, Brown had another possible client.
“He wants accident insurance because he’s working on a ladder,” said Brown, a Baltimore native.
After years of working in the hospitality industry, Brown has been selling insurance for the past three years. He says he loves the freedom of working from the field, visiting clients and setting up his office wherever there’s free Internet.
“People are desperate for assistance. People are concerned about their future—Social Security and Medicare changes. People are rearranging health insurance because it’s getting so expensive,” he said.
Sometimes he finds his clients himself, sometimes they seek him out. And then sometimes, serendipity serves as the matchmaker—one benefit of working from a coffee shop.
"The Way We Work" is an occasional column that spotlights telecommuters and the nontraditional locales they call "the office."
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